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2014 Tour de France to start in Yorkshire

PARIS (Reuters) - British cycling success this year has been rewarded with the selection of north of England county Yorkshire to host the start of the 2014 Tour de France.

The city of Leeds will host the "Grand Depart" on July 5, 2014 and there will also be a stage in London, organizers ASO said in a statement on Friday.

Details of the stages will be announced in Leeds and Paris on January 17.

"After an outstanding 2012 for British cycling, marked by the historical victory of Bradley Wiggins on the Tour de France, the United Kingdom will again hold pride of place in 2014," ASO said.

"Seven years after the Grand Depart of the Tour de France 2007 and two years after the latest Olympic Games, London will host the last stage on British soil, before the pack returns to mainland Europe."

This year, Team Sky rider Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour, raising the profile of cycling's most famous race in his country.

Wiggins, 32, also clinched the time-trial Olympic title at the London Games where the British cycling team, led by Team Sky boss Dave Brailsford, collected 12 medals across all disciplines, eight of them gold.

The Olympic road race drew hundreds of thousands of people along the route in July and the sport has enjoyed an increase in popularity in Britain.

"Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole," Yorkshire's bid leader Gary Verity said in a statement.

"We are honored that the race organizers, the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Depart.

"It will mean less than two years after hosting the Olympics the British public can look forward to another of the world's biggest sporting events coming to the country, and I am in no doubt they will come to Yorkshire in their millions, lining the length and breadth of the route to cheer on the champions of world cycling and our home grown British heroes."

It will be the fourth time the Tour has been to Britain after previous visits in 1974, 1994 and 2007 when the prologue was held in London and the first stage also started in the city.

The race has previously started outside France 19 times, including five in the Netherlands and four in Belgium, including this year's edition.

The 2013 Tour, the 100th edition of the race, will start in Corsica.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Additional reporting by Alison Wildey in London; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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